For 2017, Epcot has introduced a brand new park event: The Epcot International Festival of the Arts. The event is the third such event for the park as the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals have existed since the mid-1990’s. In more recent years, food booths were expanded to both the Flower and Garden Festival and the seasonal Holidays Around the World event at Epcot, and with the debut of this Arts festival, food booths, or “food studios”, are also a part of the fun.
This event also differs in many ways, offering a Disney on Broadway concert series, free & paid seminars, interactive art opportunities for guests, photo-ops, and live art performances throughout the park. The event is also only taking place on weekends, Friday through Monday, January 13th until February 20th, 2017.
This guide and review will hopefully provide you with all of the information you will need to tackle the rather large event should you be attending it.
First tip: pick these up. There is a lot happening at this festival, so the times guide and passport are important for even the most seasoned park veterans.
As you can see, the times guide is pretty big, detailing all of the entertainment, seminars, art workshops, and artist appearances for the weekend.
Similar to other Epcot festivals, this one offers several temporary “food studios” (otherwise known as booths or kiosks) with special food & drink menus. We have reviews of each of the food studios for you, including pictures and our thoughts on every single food item & most of the alcoholic beverages:
- The Artist’s Table
- POP Eats!
- Cuisine Classique
- Decadent Delights
- El Artista Hambriento
- The Painter’s Palate
- The Masterpiece Kitchen
Art Workshops & Seminars
Paid art workshops are available on event days and range from drawing to ink and paint classes, as well as things such as floral arrangement, watermelon carving, and more. Free versions of these events called seminars are also available, so be sure to check out the times guide each weekend. The workshops are hands-on experiences where guests can take something home, while the seminars are passive learning experiences.
Paid art workshops are available by calling 407-WDW-TOUR or by stopping by the Odyssey Festival Showplace where they are held. Tickets for seminars are distributed one hour prior to the event and are given out on a first-come, first serve basis.
The Japan pavilion also offers its own seminars during the festival, including origami and calligraphy.
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is home to two art exhibits that celebrate two of the most famous and influential Disney artists of all-time, Mary Blair and Herbert Ryman.
The festival certainly has a lot of offerings which I would consider to be pandering to Disney fans, and art exhibits featuring these two artists certainly fit that bill. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am overjoyed to see the work of Blair and Ryman on display, but it almost feels like a desperate attempt to draw in more annual passholders at the inaugural Festival of the Arts, especially after seeing just how small the two exhibits are.
For as small as they are, I appreciate the effort, but I hope (should the festival return in 2018) that these types of exhibits will be expanded into a larger space next year. For now, they are relegated to rather small areas of the Odyssey Festival Showplace, on the left and right sides of the seminar area.
The exhibits are open Friday-Monday now through February 20th, 2017 as part of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
The Future World of Herbert Ryman focuses on his concept art for EPCOT Center, mostly of now gone attractions and ideas for the park/city.
South of the Border with Mary Blair is a celebration of her work on Salads Amigos and The Three Caballeros.
Disney on Broadway Concert Series
Disney Theatrical Productions is bringing an exciting new showcase of music and Broadway talent to the America Gardens Theatre stage. Throughout the six weekends of the festival, different pairings of Broadway artists will perform songs from some of Disney on Broadway’s award winning shows.
Here is the lineup for this series:
- Jan. 13-16 and 20-23: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland performing songs from: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid
- Jan. 27-30 and Feb. 3-6: Kerry Butler and Kevin Massey performing songs from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Newsies and Aladdin
- Feb. 10-13 and 17-20: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White performing songs from Disney’s The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid
Performances will be 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday through Monday of each festival weekend.
We attended the very first show with Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland, which you can watch below:
If you wish to see this, keep in mind you should get there a little early just in case the theater should fill. The show won’t fill easily, but it won’t hurt to arrive 20-30 minutes before showtime, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.
The sets are about 30 minutes in length and the performance we went to that you see above was spectacular. Any fan of broadway will surely enjoy these concerts, a nice change of pace from the once-famous bands offered during the Flower and Garden & Food and Wine Festivals at Epcot. There is also a lot more Disney music in these shows since they are performing songs from Disney on Broadway shows, something more likely to appeal to Disney fans, such as those who read this site.
A dining package with seating for the last show of the night is available, but honestly, it is completely unnecessary for this event and better dining options are available throughout the park, including at the Food Studios.
Living statues happen intermittently in front of the Fountain of Nations stage between 10:55am and 5:40pm daily.
Animation Academy, formerly a Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction inside of The Magic of Disney Animation, is available inside of Innoventions East in the former Vision House location on event days. The shows take place between 9:15am and 6:15 pm and you can check outside of the attraction for exact show times.
There are also community performances and various performance art pieces on the Fountain of Nations stage throughout the day. Please refer to a times guide for showtimes.
Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt
Guest may purchase maps and search for Figment hidden in artwork all around Epcot’s World Showcase in this family friendly scavenger hunt event. A full review of this offering can be found here.
The event offers a number of guest photo-ops where you can step into and become part of the artwork. The line for these can be lengthy, so if any of them are on your must-do list, I suggest you tackle them around 11am when World Showcase opens. The two photo-ops in Future World are best done at park open for the shortest wait.
Each of the World Showcase character meet and greets also has an added art easel with a piece inspired by the characters.
Interactive Painting Experience
Glidden invites guests to pick up a paint brush and help paint an incredible EPCOT Center mural at the very front of World Showcase towards the Canada pavilion. Guests get to paint a few squares of the paint-by-numbers mural after waiting in what is usually a short line.
Guests may encounter a walking chalk art experience, or even Disney artists at work wheel they stroll around the World Showcase promenade on festival days.
A very 80’s EPCOT Center-stly mural is being painted in Future World over the course of the 6 weekends as well. You can watch the artists paint the mural live and in-person.
Event Exclusive Merchandise
Being the first event ever of this kind, the merchandise selection is not nearly as massive as it is for the established festivals, but there is a nice selection featuring Figment.
An annual pass holder t-shirt is available as select locations. Warning: it is available in extremely limited quantities and the shirt runs very big (at least one size larger than advertised, compared to other Disney shirts sold at the parks).
Figment is even on the sleeve of this one.
Visiting Artists & Art Shops
Be sure to check a times guide as there are literally dozens of Disney and independent artists in the various tents around the World Showcase promenade daily. They will be signing their art, but also may be creating some while they are there. The tents are open beyond these hours selling art if you can’t make it while the artist is visiting.
Separately, Tom’s Shoes offers custom painted shoes at their booth.
Enjoy the Festival!
Hopefully all of this information will help in enjoying the first annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Personally, I have been loving this eventthus far, enjoying the differences it offers from the other Epcot festivals, and the void it fills that was left by the Festival off the Masters once held at Downtown Disney. While it is the first year of the event and it isn’t quite perfect yet, it is a very strong foundation for the future.